Simple and amazing, this is one of our all-time favorite dishes so when I announce it’s on the menu, everyone shows up for dinner. The lemon zest gives this vegetarian dish a fresh and zingy flavor, and you won’t believe how many ways you can prepare this combination. Substitute spinach, kale, or your favorite seasonal greens. Use grains instead of pasta to make it gluten free. Vary the amount of garlic you use to suit your taste or substitute the lemon zest with orange zest.


  • 1 1/2 pounds Swiss chard, rinsed, ends trimmed with stems separated from leaves and coarsely chopped, about 1 1/2 to 2 bunches
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest (1 lemon)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon, or more to taste, red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound quinoa or regular fettuccine or spaghetti
  • 1/4-1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, optional


  1. In a large pot filled with water over high heat, add 2-3 tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil. Cook pasta according to directions.
  2. While you wait for the water to boil, rinse and dry the chard, removing the leaves from the stems. Chop the stems into 1/2-inch pieces and coarsely cut up the chard leaves, keep stems and leaves separate.
  3. Meanwhile, heat up half of the olive oil over medium-low heat in a pan that is large enough to hold the chard.
  4. Sauté garlic in the olive oil, and then add Swiss chard stems and sauté for 6-8 minutes or until tender. Add the leaves next and stir. Cover and sauté until wilted, about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Drain pasta and save 1/2 cup pasta liquid. Add pasta back to the pot, then add the Swiss chard, garlic, and olive oil mixture, plus the lemon zest and red pepper, and toss. Add small amounts of pasta liquid if dry and mix.
  6. Pour into a serving bowl and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve piping hot with a shower of freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.